16 April 2010

random things guaranteed to piss off right-wingers more

than actually grant anything for the rest of us.

For the first story, the benefit is non-exclusive to gay couples. Anybody can declare who they want to be admitted in an hour of need or suffering at a hospital to visit. I'd even want the capacity to deny people entrance as well at whims, but primarily the benefit is believed to be extended to homosexual couples. I guess that's a good thing, a humane thing to do, but it's hardly the same as extending the same legal privileges accorded to married couples to homosexuals. Tax benefits, inheritance, etc, all the default contractual advantages of marriage are well beyond something as basic as visiting "a friend" in the hospital. Wake me when they repeal the federal DoMA restrictions and DADT. This is a yawn that will annoy the zealots but not actually accomplish much (some hospitals already had policies like this).

For the second, I feel a bit like how the post-OJ African-American celebration is depicted by Chris Rock: "what the fuck did we win? I ain't seen no OJ prize in the mail". First, Obama is going to keep doing it anyway. Whether it's considered constitutional or not is considered irrelevant to the executive branch and its proclamations (perhaps an executive order could be vacated, but not a speech calling for such a thing). Second, I don't see what the problem with it was. It was not required or commanded to pray or do whatever it is one's faith proscribed, nor to find a means of worship. Much like Christmas, it seemed like a totally optional thing with an optional level of involvement or participation. There wasn't even a national holiday and day off associated with this one to make it harder to find a decent place to eat out if one chose to do so (ie, had no party to attend that would supply a substantial feast and perhaps some non-spiritually concerned company).

On the one hand, I agree this is sort of more like the "under God" phrase that was slipped into a meaningless pledge in the 1950s to emphasize our apparent superiority against godless communists than the secular adoption of Christmas as a commercial venture. So I suppose getting rid of the national recognition from Congress is a "win". I'm just not so sure what it won for those of us who want to be "free from religion". I'd rather get rid of "under God", or the pledge entirely, and have fewer employers care what church I do or do not attend than worry about meaningless national proclamations. Freakonomics' podcast just had the guy in Texas who fakes his story about attending some random Baptist mega-church so he can get by without harassment and annoyance at work. That's more of a problem to me that other human beings cannot accept at face value a simple statement of a lack of faith and a lack of interest in faith without casting vile aspersions of one's moral character than that the government declares a single day a day for those faithful people to do...something (something they will probably do anyway on their own time).

Update: I'd like to thank Gov Palin for being so predictable as to issue a rambling sequence of madlibs that somehow tied this ruling in.
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